Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

To Be Young Again December 22, 2014

American businessman, humanitarian and poet Samuel Ullman once wrote “Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is a matter of the will, quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life.”

I’ve come to believe this as truth in the six and a half people years I’ve been around. That youth is indeed a state of mind, something a person (or dog, in my case) is capable of choosing to embrace, regardless of the number of years they’ve walked the Earth. Still, there are times I admit to feeling old. Wiley and Joey

It happens sometimes when I spend time with dear aunt Morgan’s dog, Joey. He’s five years my junior, and you don’t have to be a dog person to see the difference in our personalities. I’ve mellowed over time, coming to enjoy my time to rest, reflect and enjoy a general sense of peace. Joey on the other hand is full of spirit all the time. He never stops. Moving, jumping, playing, spinning. He’s a bundle of energy.

I haven’t met him yet, but I’m sure the newest doggie member of my extended forever family is the exact same way. I’m happy to report that the family that recently lost 15-year-old Mocha to the Rainbow Bridge has adopted a new German Shorthair Pointer named Jackson.

Jackson

The parents were here at dear baby Carter’s Winter One-derland birthday party on Saturday, and when they got home arranged to have the new family dog wrapped up in its fancy new crate in what has become his forever home. He is only a few weeks old, and I am so incredibly happy for him to have found such a loving family so early in his life. Moreover, I’m overjoyed for the family to have found a special new doggie soul to fill the emptiness they felt after losing Mocha. And, after 15 very special years with the family, I know Mocha would feel the same way.

Because that’s the thing about getting older. Sure, there are days when I feel old. But I believe you can decide to be young at heart in spite of the inevitable creaks and cracks that accompany the aging process. You can dream about tomorrow in connection to yesterday. You can feel renewed in each day. Best of all, you can live the wisdom you’ve acquired.

 

The Tree of Life August 14, 2014

It’s everywhere you look. In different sizes, shapes and forms. And you can’t avoid it no matter how hard you try. Aging. From the ground up, it is a part of life. In itself it is almost as constant a thing as the breath that makes life a reality. It happens to everyone in different ways and different times.

Today was another beautiful late summer day in Wisconsin. The blue sky harbored a gentle breeze that kept the 70-degree weather in an absolutely perfect balance of comfort. In my backyard paradise birds chirped, the wind chimes jingled, and the sun shone brightly. In more ways than one. Mom and Carter were glowing today as they played together in the grass. Pure unadulterated joy has a way of doing that to people, I’ve noticed. So there we were enjoying the perfection of the afternoon when I noticed something that made my heart skip a beat. Tom and I

I’m not sure how I’ve missed it this long. It’s probably glaringly obvious to visitors to my forever home, but since I see it every day it was lost on me. Until today. Today I noticed that my dear Tom seems to be dying. Tom is a good friend of mine otherwise known as my favorite tree in the backyard. He was there for me when I was new here. He stood by when I got into my barking arguments with Demon Dog. He provides shade for moments like today when mom and Carter play in the grass. And he is dying.

I don’t know how I missed that about three quarters of his branches have gone bristle dry at some point. There are some branches with leaves on it still, but they are few and far between. I hate to think of what is going to happen to him when those branches go dry too.

As I reflected on this in the gorgeous afternoon sun today I found my heart turning to dear baby Carter. He is still so young, and yet seems to be growing up so fast. And mom, who has blossomed from a young adult into a woman before my eyes in the last few years. And me, as I approach canine middle age.

Aging. From the ground up, it is everywhere you look. It happens to everything and everyone at different times in different ways. But as true and beautiful as Tom’s remaining branches are, I know in my heart this part of life is another chapter just as valuable as all the chapters before it. And, like most things, the tree of life is only as beautiful as we believe it to be.

So you might call me a tree hugger, but I’m okay with that. Because to me life is a pretty beautiful thing.

 

But Do Not Say May 15, 2014

There are things we think. These things are precious and special and private. Then there are things we say, either by word (in the case of my people) or by action (in the case of canines). These are things that cannot be taken back, no matter how badly we sometimes wish they could me.

I find this sometimes happens with my beloved mom and dad. Sometimes, whether in an argument with each other or others they say things they don’t mean in the heat of the moment and there is no turning back once they are said. Words are a powerful thing, a tool to which I frequently wish I had access. Days like today? Not so much.

Because today I finally spent some quality time with my dear new friend Joey. He’s adorable. He makes me feel young again. We play and wrestle and growl and paw at each other just like I’d hoped I would do with my dear aunt’s new dog once she found him. Boys will be boys, so we got a little rough with each other. Such is to be expected of us, after all. Dogs will be dogs.

2014-05-15 17.54.04At one point or another I got hurt in all of it. Again, it was one of those misunderstandings I have with my people sometimes. I was chewing on a rawhide bone for the first time in a while and my gums started bleeding. My dear aunt Morgan assumed it was because of something that happened between Joey and I. I knew better, and wished I could say so. In reality I knew it was because of me and my own silliness I was hurting. Such is life that I was silenced yet again.

Instead my people and Morgan got into a bit of a fit about it and it didn’t seem to end well. Morgan left with Joey and that was that.

But that’s just it. There are things we think. And there are things we say. Frequently I am pretty sure the things I think never make it to the realm of nonverbal communication with my people. Today they would have been in trouble because of the misunderstanding that happened. It was my own fault my teeth were hurting. Not Joey’s or anyone but me.

That didn’t stop them from worrying about it yet I was powerless to say anything to clear up the confusion. Because we never know when we won’t be able to speak. Or (worse) when the words we speak will not be heard. Such is yet another example of the importance of being what we cannot say on a daily basis. So today I re-commit myself to being the words I cannot say. Instead I live by doing.

 

Funny Little Number February 6, 2014

Perspective does funny little number on time. To a dog, a day when people are away at that place called work seems like an eternity. To a child, time is endless. To an adult, time is a precious commodity. To me, time is priceless.

That is why I don’t really understand what happens to people and birthdays. When you’re a little person, a birthday is something worthy of fanfare, presents and celebration. I’ve had the good fortune of attending several birthday parties for the little people in the family and they are always something to remember. They come complete with cakes with candles, beautifully wrapped presents and even the occasional water balloon fight (weather permitting). Silly Numbers

I must be missing a part of the puzzle. Because my forever dad never seems to want anything to do with any of it on his birthday. He turned 35 people years old yesterday and mom was sure to go about her usual attempts to commemorate the day. There were presents and mom got an ice cream cake, but dad wanted none of it.

Denial. From the ground up, that is the only emotion in the Schmidt home yesterday. Dad was in denial that he is another year older. Mom was in denial of his denial. I was in denial of all of it. And Carter? Well, he slept the majority of the time so I’m not really sure what he was thinking.

All in all it was one of those days you can’t wait to go to bed so it can be tomorrow. So that’s what I did. But today I got to thinking about these evolving perceptions of time. Why is it that birthdays stop being fun as people age? Age brings with it memories and love and wisdom. And I don’t care what dad thinks. I’m happy he was born, regardless of how long ago it happened.

I guess I side with American baseball player Satchel Paige. “How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” he questioned.

Perspective. From the ground up, it does a funny little number on time. Heck, I turn the equivalent of 45 people years old in May and I’ve never felt better. And to me, time is endless, precious and priceless. Because instead of counting years I count blessings. And in doing so, I celebrate the years to come rather than counting the years past.

 

My Kind of Zoo June 4, 2013

My mom and I have this weekday morning routine. She usually wakes up before dad, let’s me outside and then feeds me my kibble and water. I stand guard on the bath mat (which I’m certain is laid out specifically for me because of the chilly tiles) while she readies for the day. Dad leaves for that place called work, usually giving me a healthy pat on the head before closing the door behind him. When mom is leaving, I do a circle and sit in my doggie bed in the kitchen awaiting the surprise treat she always leaves me. (I’m not one to turn down the treats, but let’s face it – a treat is no fair trade for her leaving me all day).  The New Look

Today I was mid-sit in my bed when she said the magical words that turned routine into an adventure. Car ride, Wiley? Well all right then, I thought, as I practically jumped into my leash and off we went. A few minutes into the ride, she said another set of words I associate with adventure. Haircut, Wiley? I wagged my tail wildly to ensure she knew this was a more than acceptable turn of events. It might not be the typical doggie reaction to going to the groomer, but I’m not your typical doggie.

While I’m not that crazy about the entire process of being bathed, trimmed, and brushed, I do love everything else about my trips to Paws R Us. When I get there, I’m greeted by all of my pals who hang out at the shop while the groomer named Mary does her magic. It is chaos personified, with dogs everywhere pacing and playing and barking. It’s my kind of zoo.

My time today took an interesting turn for the thought-provoking as I waited in the back room for mom to come pick me up. I met a lab/chow mix puppy named Titus who wanted to wrestle and paw at my head and bare his razor-sharp puppy teeth. I wanted to talk philosophy and dreams. (I tried telling him about my blog, but he didn’t seem to have any idea what a computer is, let alone a blog).

That’s when it hit me. I’m getting older. I used to love engaging with rabble rousers like Titus, but today I only enjoyed our playtime for a few minutes before I got bored. I guess it would be kind of like the equivalent of when a person finds his or her first gray hair. I can’t say it was a happy revelation to come to amidst the adventure of today. I even found myself having a moment of self-doubt, like maybe my forever mom and dad won’t love me as much when I get old and loose my spark.

But it didn’t take much to snap me out of that horribly sad state of mind. I saw my spark was alive and well in mom’s eyes when she came to take me home. He looks adorable, she told Mary with a humongous smile on her face. And just like that, all of my negative thoughts faded away.

This is the mom, I thought, who feeds me and walks me and plays with me and tells me she loves me. What was I thinking? I decided then and there to leave my self-doubt behind just like all my fur on the groomer table. As it should be, according to the wise words of great transcendental thinker Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you,” Emerson once said. It’s amazing what one can learn about yourself from a little unexpected adventure to the zoo.

Before            Before and After. What do you think?                  After